In the words of tennis great Arthur Ashe, “Success is a journey, not a destination.” Not only do these words ring true for personal success in life, but also in branding. The most successful brands adopt an attitude of continuous learning, always seeking to better understand their customers, and find ways to enhance their experiences. One way is to incorporate customer journey mapping into your strategic planning process.
The customer journey mapping process helps tie your organization’s knowledge of your brand touchpoints with your customers’ needs, experiences, and perceptions throughout their brand interactions. The resulting customer journey map visually depicts each brand experience and the emotions consumers go through along the way. It identifies pivotal moments in your customers’ journey, highlighting opportunities to improve their overall experience and strengthen brand loyalty. The reason it’s so effective is the way it taps into the power of emotional experiences. Marketers who use journey maps enhance their ability to:
- Relate to customers’ frustrations on a personal level
- Recognize opportunities to create positive emotional experiences with the brand
- Engage employees to take ownership for enhancing customer experiences
Get to Know Your Customers as People
Going through a customer journey mapping process helps marketers relate to their customers’ experiences on a personal level. Understanding when and where customers can get frustrated with your brand helps you focus your improvement efforts on turning-point moments. A journey map shows a cohesive story, helping marketers see the impact key interactions can have on the customers’ brand relationship.
Take, for example, an insight the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities gained from a recent journey mapping exercise. They heard stories about the process new members go through to find the right fitness classes. After weeding through course descriptions and searching through schedules to find a convenient time, some new members were disappointed to find out the class wasn’t what they expected. The YMCA took action by streamlining their class schedules and posting video clips of classes online. This made it easy for new members to jump right into a class and feel confident they made the right choice joining the YMCA to meet their fitness goals.
Tap into the Power of Emotion
Disney Parks are undisputed leaders in creating exceptional experiences for their visitors, and they use customer journey mapping to reveal further opportunities to bring a little magic to even mundane aspects of a Disney vacation. One innovation they developed as a result of journey mapping is the Disney Magicband. Leveraging advances in wearable technology, Disney created wristbands that open hotel rooms, pay for meals and merchandise, and even give visitors FastPass access to their favorite rides – all at the wave of a hand.
While providing small conveniences individually, the cumulative effect of using their Magicband sets Disney apart from the typical vacation experience. It’s unlikely that traditional customer satisfaction research would have identified individual moments like opening a hotel door or paying for a meal as opportunities to make a positive impression to their visitors. An important lesson is learned here. When heard in the context of a full customer journey, seemingly small frustrations can turn into opportunities to personalize the customer experience and demonstrate your brand promise in action.
Break Down Silo Mentality
Another way the journey mapping process can prove to be valuable is in the way it can rally the entire organization around the goal of optimizing the customer experience. It’s important to share insights from customer journey mapping across all departments. By engaging the whole company in the journey mapping process, employees are empowered to take individual responsibility for their role in the overall customer experience, regardless of their job description.
The Cleveland Clinic is well known for being a health care industry leader in the patient experience movement. As part of their customer journey mapping process, they create charts depicting key patient moments and post them throughout their facilities for all employees to see. Everyone from surgeons to nurses, receptionists, maintenance, and billing representatives are encouraged to think of their patient’s needs first. It’s just one way Cleveland Clinic prevents a ‘silo’ mentality. Plus, with everyone focused on the same goal, it increases the probability of creating innovative ways to make a patient’s visit as positive as possible.
Reinforce a Customer-Centric Culture
Whether consciously or not, customers develop emotional relationships with many of the brands they use. These relationships transcend the individual steps they go through from seeking information, to purchasing, using, and recommending the brand. A customer’s connection with a brand is shaped by the emotions they experience throughout these brand interactions. Developing a customer journey map is an effective way to identify pivotal moments across a customer’s brand experience. Ultimately, the core advantage of using customer journey maps is the way it fosters empathy and understanding for a customer’s brand experiences, both the good and the bad. It’s this customer-centric mindset that helps illuminate possibilities for continuous improvement.